News / Middle East

Will Egypt Unrest Undermine Middle East Peace Process?

Anti-Mubarak protesters hold an huge Egyptian flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 8, 2011
Anti-Mubarak protesters hold an huge Egyptian flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square, February 8, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Masses of demonstrators continue their protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  Our correspondent looks at whether events in Egypt have any effect on the Middle East peace process involving Israelis and Palestinians.

Just days after being inaugurated president of the United States on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama named former Senator George Mitchell as U.S. special envoy to the Middle East.  Mitchell’s negotiating skills were well documented, as he helped mediate the 1998 Good Friday Accord in Northern Ireland.  His appointment by Mr. Obama was seen as a strong signal that the United States was committed to getting negotiations started again between Israelis and Palestinians.  

But more than two years after Mitchell’s appointment, analysts say the peace process is going nowhere.

Fawaz Gerges is with the London School of Economics:

"There is no peace process.  The peace process is dead, and we know why the peace process is dead," Gerges said. "Let us be blunt about it.  President Barack Obama invested considerable political capital in trying to nudge the Palestinians and the Israelis into a comprehensive peace settlement, trying to broker a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Let us not fudge the issue.  The issue is the Israeli side is unwilling to basically freeze settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem - even partial settlements."

The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has made it clear it will not negotiate with Israel so long as it continues to build settlements in occupied territory.

Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft says both sides are intransigent.

"On the Israeli side, they are clearly not prepared to stop building settlements, which are a threat to a two-state solution," Scowcroft said. "On the Arab side, there is increasing agitation to abandon a two-state solution, which will be a catastrophe for Israel."

Many analysts say the current upheaval in Egypt has nothing to do with the stalled Middle East peace process.

Daniel Kurtzer was a former U.S. ambassador to both Egypt and Israel.

"The peace process has been in some crisis anyway before this outbreak in Egypt," Kurtzer said. "The administration has been trying for two years to get some traction for negotiations and has not really succeeded.  So at the moment, I think the events in Egypt simply exacerbate the problem that the peace process is facing.  And certainly they do not make it easier to envisage negotiations in the short term."

Former senior State Department official Aaron David Miller, who is now with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says events in Egypt present a sort of silver lining for President Obama.

"In a way, in an odd way, the administration has been saved by developments in Egypt because at least for the short term, they do not have to think about a strategy toward the peace process," Miller said. "It is stuck - and there is very little that the Obama administration right now is able or willing to do about it."

Looking at Israeli-Egyptian relations, experts such as Fawaz Gerges say one cause for concern, especially for Israel, is what kind of government will emerge in Egypt to replace President Hosni Mubarak?  And will it abide by the 1979 peace treaty signed between the two countries?

"If I were to look at it from an Israeli point of view, one of the major lessons that emerges, so far, out of the Egyptian drama, is that as long as there is no peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel will never feel secure," Gerges said. "That is - by relying on one man, that is Mubarak, or one man, the late President Anwar Sadat, Israel’s security is more of short term as opposed to the long term."

In the final analysis, many experts believe whatever government comes out of the upheaval in Egypt will abide by the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace accord.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid